Category Archives: Writing

Baby It’s Your Call; No Pressure at All

I have been thinking a lot lately – the last few months, since the drastic change in life-course appeared on the horizon – about what I want to do when I have absolute freedom to build my own life. What do I want it to look like; what do I want it to be.

Perhaps the most important part is that I do not want to remain a 9-5 slave in the employment of someone else. I can work very hard and very dedicatedly, but the only times I am happy giving that much of myself is when the work is for myself. I dislike giving the best of me to someone else for a paycheck when I know they are not really utilizing my talents to the fullest. I would rather work for myself, because I as an employer of my self would understand how to best use my own talents. So foremost on my mind has been considering how to pimp out my various talents and expertises for a cash flow.

Funny thing: fiction writing doesn’t even make the list.

I have 4-5 different ideas and schemes in mind (and intention to implement all of them – the whole many small streams make a sustainable river income idea), some of which do involve writing – but not fiction.

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that fiction writing is slow (for me, anyway) and the return is not guaranteed – nor is it guaranteed to come right away. But a lot of it is inclination. The things that energize me, that make me excited to do with other people, that make me feel my entrepreneurial and innovative oats to sow, are not fiction writing. Fiction writing is personal. It is for myself, and if others enjoy it and give me a little money for it, great – but I cannot write for the money, and I don’t want to make myself hate writing because it’s not paying the bills. I realized, texting with a friend last night, that probably part of the reason writing has been so un-joyful for me in the last couple years, is that I had focused on it as a means of ending my day-job, and I was upset at myself for not being able to produce fast enough to keep up with the plan, and upset at the uncontrollable nature of selling. I was forcing myself to write because that was the plan, and it wasn’t enjoyable or inspiring. Sometimes you can only realize your dreams when you let an old dream go.

I am letting go of the idea of making my income writing fiction. I have a lot of other talents and skills that can be exploited without the use of an external employer to keep a roof over my head and food in my son’s mouth. That is my real dream. If I let go of novel-writing as the means of attaining that dream, I can make it a measurable and quantifiable goal with a probability of success by using those other talents and skills as the basis. And I can keep writing as a hobby, an artistic expression that I do for myself because I can’t not do it – and I can still publish the things I finish, when they are ready, and let my work find its audience. Maybe someday I will have enough work and enough audience to re-think the “day job” side of my work life. And maybe I won’t. But this way I don’t have to feel bad if I don’t, and I don’t have to despair that I will never get out of desk-job hell because my writing isn’t doing what it “should” be. I can have my dream – and my writing.

Sometimes wildfires are necessary to clear out debris and detritus.

We don’t need no water, let the motherfucker burn – burn, motherfucker, burn.

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Mudding

I am still stuck in the middle of the middle of this story. I think my subconscious is just taking its time to work through some things. Basically what I am struggling with is what I have always struggled with on this story – getting a handle on the whole thing in my mind at once. It’s like the magnitudes of magnification skip over what I need, where I can see all of it at once but in enough detail to be useful. It’s either too close or too far out.

One of the issues I did notice is that all the side characters who come up important for the end of the story had gotten pushed out of the middle. They don’t just disappear from the hero and heroine’s lives, so why did they disappear from the page?

Another issue I have found is a bit more of a major one: why, exactly, do the hero and heroine fall in love? I think most of what’s really got me held up is that I don’t have a good answer. I knew in the first draft that their dynamic was a little lacking, but I figured by the time I got to the end and then cycled back, I’d have a better grasp of why everything happens between them and therefore how to focus the view on that a little better. Apparently I am still in the same boat of not knowing everything that happens therefore not knowing exactly what threads to pull to the front.

I feel like my imagination went mudding and got stuck. Waiting for the tow truck, or the surge of desperate ingenuity that will show me how to dig myself out.

mud meme

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My Muse, the Parselmouth

Sunday I was trying to write while my baby napped. I ended up taking a nap, too. As you can see, either my muse is back passed out in a gutter somewhere…or he’s a Parselmouth. I guess if it’s the latter, I really am a Slytherin?

photo

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Twenty- Twenty- Twenty-Four Scenes to Go-o-oh

I wanna be sedated

I suppose I should have said chapters, not scenes (but, of course, “chapters” would not suit the rhythm of the Ramones). I think the actual scene count is more like 30, and a soft 30 at that – inevitably I will find gaps that need to be bridged, pushing that number higher – but I think 24 is a fairly safe estimate for number of chapters remaining. I have currently written 22, and my word count is just shy of 50,00, so by both of those measures I am pretty much exactly halfway through (re)writing this novel.

Not bad, I suppose, considering I didn’t really seem to hit my stride and start working in earnest until April.

I suppose I should also count myself lucky that I have reached 50% of the book before hitting the “mushy middle” wherein I realize that I have a not insignificant gap between where my narrative is and the point at which my next string of events starts happening. I am debating whether I ought to tighten up the time by literally moving the events that have already happened forward a month or continuing to pluck the various storylines one by one and hope that one (or more) of them shakes down a couple events that are of narrative importance to happen to my characters in the next month of their lives.

From a word-count perspective the mushy middle also amounts to a small section of the whole…the point in my original draft from which I don’t expect much to change events-wise in this re-write to the end is 61,848 words. Even allowing that I will cut a third of them (leaving roughly 40,000 to be grafted to my current 50,000), with a projected total of no more than 100,000, this little gap in my outline can comprise no more than 5000 words, since I assume I will need to add in at least that many across the 40K to make everything flow smoothly. So as far as mushy middles go, this one is the shortest, quickest, and easiest to solve yet.

Unless, of course, the point from which nothing much changes is a mirage.

Unfortunately I feel like I need to parse out which direction I’m taking (shift the calendar or add events) before I move any further. The hero and heroine have established a good momentum. I don’t want to crash that by giving them nothing to do for a month except more of the same. I want the snowball to keep rolling down the hill and getting bigger and bigger – but I also want it to have enough rolling time that the point of no return is also believable (since one of my biggest complaints about 80% of current romance novels is the short time frame in which they take place).

At least the writing is still coming easy. At least there’s that.

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Progress Report

I am finally at the part of my novel revision where I am done writing entire scenes and chapters from scratch and am able to integrate part or all of a given segment from my original draft. There will be a few new scenes to write, simply because the current of the story changed a little from its original course, but for the most part the new words are generated. Now on to the endless evaluation, trimming, and restructuring of the 75,518 words left in my doc of the original draft that is not yet integrated into the new one.

I have no idea how long it will take me to make this revision a cohesive whole. Hopefully not too much longer.

The last few weeks (month, even? Basically since I kicked the bronchitis finally and recovered my life equilibrium) I have moved things forward at a good clip. Keep it rolling, keep it rolling, keep it rolling.

Last night I was trying to remember when I actually started writing on this revision draft. Had to check the create date on my Word doc, because I didn’t make a good note of it inside the doc, nor did I make a note of it here anywhere. January 7, for the curious. Basically 5 months ago.

I’ve written 35,000 in five months. Okay, fine, SOME of them were already written, but I am sure at least 20,000 were brand new words. Which is, yeah, okay, not fabulous, but also not that bad when I consider just how little time and energy I have had to devote to this project. I will be happy with my stat’s if I can finish revisions on the rest of my first draft by the 6 month mark.

July 7.

That’s 23 days from now. If I do the same amount of work every day, that’s 3283 words a day moved from the old draft to the new (with necessary trims, additions, and reworkings). If I count it by chapters, it’s a little more than one chapter per day on the old counting (because I am up to Chapter 15 of 42 in the old draft).

Those measures are not unreasonable. They are not unattainable – provided I touch the project every day.

Eye on the prize. Keep it rolling. Come on, muse, just hold your shit together for 3 weeks and 3 days….

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Not Yet Integrated Countdown

The new graft point dropped the number of words not yet integrated into my revision from 90K to 75K. Considering that I am already at 30K, the prospect of adding 75 is much better than that of adding 90. Alas that even the 75 is really going to be, in aggregate, adding about 50K of previously written words and writing 25K new ones because the first version wasn’t right.

There is a segment of the darling section I’m debating keeping in. I don’t think that I will, because I don’t see the narrative function that it serves, but reading back through it, I enjoyed it quite a lot. Perhaps it can be a “deleted scene” that I can post somewhere (here, probably) as an extra to the book when it comes out.

I thought I had it in me to write the next scene tonight, but I made the mistake of reading the not one but two prior iterations of it, and now they are reverberating inside my head too loudly for the actual character voices I was hearing before to be intelligible.

If I want to finish by the end of the month I have to integrate about 2500 words per night, inclusive of any rewriting. Ten thousand word deletion sprees are easier.

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Subplots Falling Like Flies

I am up to 30,000 words on the revision of Anything But a Gentleman and very nearly at an end of the sections I will have to write from scratch. As in, the next scene or two I write might well be the last. Thank God.

I had a thought a week or two ago while driving to work, about more events that could simply be cut out in order to streamline the narrative a little better. It took a bit of mulling on the matter and rolling the new vision around in my head for a few days, but ultimately I realized that I had a darling in my sights. I could shoot to kill without regret.

It was a short intuitive leap from there to realizing that a whole sequence of events that took place basically at the point of integration for old beginning/new beginning were pretty contrived (“plotted”) happenstances rather than natural and organic occurrences that led from what came before. When I took them away and grafted the new beginning to a point a little later on, like a surgeon cutting out a diseased piece of intestine, everything still made sense and still worked – in fact it worked better. The revised sequence of events was cleaner, tighter, and kept the focus a little better on the couple.

I will say that re-thinking the transition between Act I and Act II made me realize how much work I still have to do on the hero and heroine’s interactions and relationship-building, but in a good way. I am both excited to work on those scenes and excited for what enhancement means to the story overall. This story really was one I had to construct all wrong in order to comprehend enough to construct right.

I had meant to cease work on this and start work on the project I mentioned last post in June. Well, today is May 31. I feel like I had a breakthrough today, and I am loath to squander that. I am sure I’ll find new shoals to wreck on soon enough, eh?

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